Exposure Metering

Cameras nowadays (irrespective of being digital or analog) provide various exposure meters based on the TTL technology. This allows the photographer to choose the optimal mode depending on the scene.

  • Centre-weighted average metering
  • Spot metering
  • Partial metering
  • Multi-zone metering

Up until a few decades ago, not every camera was equipped with an exposure metering system. Photographers had to either use an external exposure meter or estimate the brightness, which is difficult as the human eye can adjust to different lighting conditions. To aid photographers, a number of mnemonic verses were created or tables were printed on the film packaging. However, these methods did not deliver satisfactory results. Due to the relatively wide contrast range of negative films – especially b/w films – and the reworking of photographic prints in the photo laboratory, poorly lit negatives could be turned into useable photographic prints.

External exposure metering was much more accurate but also much more time-consuming. Working with external exposure meters was not only time-consuming; the advantage was that a photographer learnt early on how to assess the lighting, targeting the important areas for images. When TTL metering (Through the Lens) was introduced, it became less popular to work with external meters and today they are only used in certain fields of professional photography or by less specialised amateurs.

Cameras nowadays (irrespective of being digital or analog) provide various exposure meters based on the TTL technology. This allows the photographer to choose the optimal mode depending on the scene.

  • Centre-weighted average metering
  • Spot metering
  • Partial metering
  • Multi-zone metering

The following articles show the particularities of each metering mode.

In addition to the various metering methods, there are different features that appear when the meters are activated, saved i.e. the time of exposure metering. These differences can be photographically relevant in everyday life, especially when changes are being made to an image section. Usually these exposure settings can be adjusted in the respective menus. In addition, there is usually an AE-lock button (automatic exposure) on SLR cameras. This permits the exposure metering to occur without changing the focus.

  • Exposure is already focused on and saved when the shutter release is depressed (e.g. the standard setting on many canon SLR cameras) 
  • Exposure isn‘t focused on and saved until the shutter release is pressed down all the way (exposure values will change if the image section is changed even if the shutter release is only depressed)

Reader’s question
Up until now I have mainly used the automatic mode or other mode settings to take photographs! However, I would now like to start manually adjusting the exposure, i.e. determine diaphragm and exposure time! My question is: Which metering mode would be the best one for me to use?  Multi-zone, centre-weighted average or spot?

Answer
For manual settings in mode M, I would use the centre-weighted or spot metering modes as using these modes it is easy to see where exposure is being metered. The results from the multi-zone metering mode are not always clear as more settings are involved to achieve the result. In the mode AV, I would usually use the multi-zone metering mode as it usually gives good results and is more convenient to work with than the spot or centre-weighted average metering modes.

 

 

 

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